Another day, another round-up of film reviews…
DAY 234 – THE STANFORD PRISON EXPERIMENT (2015)
Based on the real-life experiment that took place in 1971, The Stanford Prison Experiment is a bleak, disturbing look at how human beings can become dehumanized when they receive/are degraded of too much power. The performances are incredible, with the cast (including Billy Crudup, Ezra Miller, Michael Angarano, Olivia Thirlby, and Nelsan Ellis) imbuing their characters with personality. The visuals are drab, but it fits the oppressive, depressing tone of the film.
This is a tough watch, and even though I found this to be a fantastically acted, fascinatingly horrifying story, I don’t see myself returning to this movie any time soon. It’s an important film, but it’s grueling.
DAY 235 – SPIDER-MAN: HOMECOMING (2017)
Check out my review for my full thoughts on the latest Spider-Man film!
DAY 236 – PI (1998)
Pi follows an expert mathematician named Max (Sean Gullette), as he builds a supercomputer. This ultimately draws the unsavory attentions of a Wall Street firm and a cult who want to use the computer for their own purposes. Max has to figure out how to evade these groups while also continuing to work on his project.
This isn’t a film for everyone. The structure of the film is very twisty, and some viewers will find this off-putting. It also heavily focuses on math and the mental state of Max, which becomes increasingly complex and knotty as the film progresses. I adored these aspects of the movie, though. I also loved the black and white aesthetic, and loved Darren Aronofsky’s direction.
DAY 237 – IT’S ONLY THE END OF THE WORLD (2017)
The latest film from Xavier Dolan, It’s Only the End of the World finds Louis (a lumionous Gaspard Ulliel) returning home after twelve years to tell his family that he’s dying (not a spoiler). Things don’t go as planned, though, once he arrives and his dysfunctional family doesn’t receive him as well as he had hoped. This is a beautifully shot film with fantastic performances from its cast (including Vincent Cassel, Marion Cotillard, and Lea Seydoux), and the internal struggles that Louis faces wrenched at my heart.
I was slightly let down by this movie, though. I wished that the family had been fleshed out more, and Louis’ story ended on an unsatisfactory note. I know that it was reflecting what would happen in actual life, but I cared so deeply for his character that my heart was left longing for closure. His family is also atrociously unlikable, for the most part. I also felt like Marion Cotillard was wasted. She’s a vibrant talent, but she’s delegated to the sidelines of this movie. This is a beautiful picture with a meaningful message, but a few things hold it back from being as powerful as it could have been.
DAY 238 – LEON: THE PROFESSIONAL (1994)
One of Luc Besson’s best films, Leon: The Professional centers on Leon (Jean Reno), a cleaner who takes in a twelve-year old girl named Mathilda (Natalie Portman) after her family is brutally murdered. She desperately wants to follow in his footsteps and avenge her family, but he just wants to live a quiet life. He doesn’t get his wish, though, as the goons who killed her family are searching for her.
The bond between Leon and Mathilda is intriguing (some may find it slightly icky), and I loved seeing the emotional evolutions of both. Both actors were fantastic, and the action set-pieces are epic. Sure, some of the dialogue was flat, but that can be forgiven when the main plot is as badass as this is.
DAY 239 – TAKING LIVES (2004)
A fairly forgettable thriller with a cast that is too good for this mediocre plot, Taking Lives follows a dogged FBI profiler named Illeana (Angelina Jolie) as she hunts down a serial killer. The sole witness they have (Ethan Hawke) is a sketchy man who ultimately manages to steal Illeana’s heart, but as everyone knows, when you start to develop feelings is the moment you become vulnerable…
There are a couple of solid jump scares in Taking Lives, but the story is extremely predictable, and the payoff is scarce. The only thing that saves this movie from being just another bland thriller are the excellent performances.
DAY 240 – THEIR FINEST (2017)
A brilliant film based on the novel Their Finest Hour and a Half, Their Finest follows a bright scriptwriter named Catrin Cole (Gemma Arterton), as she’s hired by the British Ministry of Information to write film scripts for propaganda movies. She decides to cover the lives of two women who survived the Battle of Dunkirk, and quickly becomes enraptured with her work. She’s aided by a fellow writer, Tom Buckley (Sam Claflin), and a grumpy actor (Bill Nighy) who is unhappy with his role.
Some will find this movie to be too sweet and slow, but I adored the setting and plot, and the cast was incredible. I was left feeling warm and cozy (and also shed a few tears), and would highly recommend this to anyone who loves historical films and/or films that celebrate film.
DAY 241 – HERE ALONE (2016)
I was initially intrigued by the concept of this movie, but was ultimately let down by the actual execution. The film follows a woman named Ann, who is living alone in the woods after the zombie apocalypse. She has lost her husband (Shane West, who is woefully wasted) and young daughter, and is just surviving day-to-day. One day, though, she encounters a young woman and her injured stepfather. She allows them to cohabitate with her, and they learn about each other’s past.
This film felt like a slower episode of The Walking Dead, and was completely unoriginal. I was yearning for MORE, especially after we’ve been saturated with so much zombie cinema in the past years. Here Alone is a gorgeously shot film with decent performances, but it’s highly forgettable.
DAY 242 – TO THE BONE (2017)
Watch my video review to find out my thoughts on To the Bone!
DAY 243 – THE VOID (2017)
A successfully crowd-funded film, The Void is a surprisingly polished horror film that held my attention all the way through its run time. The film sees a group of people trapped in a hospital, due to a group of creepy, knife-wielding robed people blocking their way outside. It’s not much better on the inside, though. There is an insidious creature in the hospital with them, and inevitably, people start to show their true colors and do what they have to to survive.
I was loving this film until it’s final twenty minutes. It quickly became a convoluted mess that didn’t mesh with the rest of the film, and I was left deeply unsatisfied. After such an incredible opening and awesome set-pieces throughout the film, the ending left me craving more. The performances are good, as is the direction. There are some stomach-churningly awesome special effects, and liberal amounts of claret are spilled. The Void just kinda falls into a void by the time the ending wraps up.
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